Here we go – the very last bookish 2015 post before we turn our attention completely to 2016 reading! In looking back over book superlative posts from years past, I realized that this is the fifth year I’ve been giving high school yearbook awards to the books I read over the past year! That seems totally crazy, but I assure you, it’s true. (See past book superlative posts here: 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014.) These are always some of my favorite posts to write each year. So with that, let’s get to it!
Brainiest – The 2015 valedictorian has to be Marilynne Robinson’s The Givenness of Things. A collection of essays on theology, philosophy, Shakespeare, culture, and American political economy, Robinson’s latest work was challenging in all the best ways. Definitely the smartest thing I read all year (it was also the last!).
Best Looking – While sometimes I go for a book with lovely illustrations in this category, this year it’s a cover that takes home the title. Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See is gorgeous. It helps that the story in between the absolutely stunning covers is beautiful, too.
Best Friends – It’s friendship TO THE MAX for Jo, April, Mal, Molly and Ripley as they attend Miss Qiunzilla Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet’s camp for hard-core lady-types, where all is most definitely not as it seems. Monsters! Greek gods! Dinosaurs! Anagrams! When you have friends like this crew, nothing can stop you.
Class Clown – The funniest in the bunch has got to be Yes Please, by my girl Amy Poehler! I am a huge fan of Amy’s work on SNL and especially on Parks and Recreation, which is one of my all-time favorite shows. Her book was just as funny as you’d expect. KNOPE WE CAN!
Biggest Jock – The Class of 2015 was more nerdy than sporty, but we do have one jock in the bunch – Maggie Thrash, who describes in Honor Girl how rifle practice helped her work through her feelings for a female camp counselor.
Teacher’s Pet – How can you overlook Crossing to Safety, a novel about the friendship between two English professors and their wives, for this category? It was one of my favorite books of the year, and the academia setting was dreamy.
Biggest Nerd – It’s not such a bad thing to be a geek when it saves your life, like it does for Mark Watney in The Martian, by Andy Weir. Steve and I both read and loved The Martian, and we saw the movie on opening night – it was so awesome!
Most Creative – Elizabeth Gilbert takes this one for Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear, her manifesto on the artistic life. She’s definitely the one pressing copies of the literary magazine into every unwilling hand this year.
Most Opinionated – We have a tie! I have to give the “most opinionated” title to Ta-Nehisi Coates for his spectacular memoir/history/manifesto, Between the World and Me, which took the bookish world by storm this year. In any other year he’d hold the title on his own, but Margo Jefferson had a lot to say in 2015 as well. Negroland, her memoir of growing up in a privileged African-American enclave, was breathtaking – especially her perfectly explained, brilliantly reasoned discussion of intersectional feminism. How lucky am I to have read two such wonderful, eye-opening book this year?
Most Likely to End Up in Hollywood – I could cheat and say The Martian, since it already is a movie, or Captain Marvel or Black Widow, which I believe are both planned, but I’m going to stay true to the spirit of this award and instead give the title to a book I think would make an excellent (albeit distressing) movie: Judy Blume’s newest, In the Unlikely Event. Based on true events that took place when Blume was a teenager in Elizabeth, New Jersey, this is an edge-of-your-seat page-turner that seems tailor made for the big screen.
Biggest Rebel – He’s constantly confusing, confounding the British henchmen – everyone give it up for America’s favorite fightin’ Frenchman! Biggest Rebel goes to the teenaged French aristocrat who turned up at George Washington’s side and made himself the most popular immigrant in American history – Lafayette in the Somewhat United States. Vowell brings her trademark humor to history with her newest book, which I just loved. Between Lafayette and the Hamilton soundtrack, which I cannot stop listening to, I’m itching to get back to Mount Vernon for a visit. (I can’t promise that I won’t break out in song… errrr, rap… if I do.)
Biggest Loner – This year’s weirdo is actually not a loner, but I promise you, these two are creepy. You do not want to run into Norah and Jonah Grayer in David Mitchell’s Slade House. Trust me on that one. (This terrifying book is going to become a Halloween tradition for me. Sleep is overrated.)
Cutest Couple – They don’t make ’em any cuter than Nick and Bex in The Royal We. One of my favorite books of the year, We was Will and Kate fan-fic at its finest. Officially adding my voice to the chorus that is begging for a sequel. With babies!
Most Likely to Succeed – This one has to go to Eva Thorvald, the reclusive celebrity chef at the center of J. Ryan Stradal’s fun novel Kitchens of the Great Midwest. Eva is mysterious, but with the help of her perfect palate, she is the ultimate foodie success story.
As always, book superlatives are a blast! What high school yearbook awards would you give your 2015 books?